The governor of Phuket has pledged to sort out a number of issues with the island’s sandbox scheme as infection rates continue to rise. According to a Bangkok Post report, Narong Woosiew says the matters identified will lead to improvements, adding that he will soon introduce “Phuket Sandbox Version 2“.
“Currently, the local economy is doing well due to the increasing number of tourists. I want residents, business operators, and all stakeholders to keep following Covid-19 measures. If we can do that, we will get through this crisis together.”
Narong’s deputy, Pichate Panaphong, says there are currently 4 problems with the rules of the sandbox scheme, which was launched in July last year to attract foreign tourists back to the island. The first of those is how long it’s taking to approve Thailand Pass applications. Pichate would like to see a one-stop service that operates 24 hours, with a dedicated call centre to answer questions from foreign tourists. Hmm… Not to be deterred, he has submitted the suggestion to the Interior Ministry and asked that they discuss it with the CCSA.
The Bangkok Post reports that Pichate says there are also not enough PCR testing labs. He says the requirement for a second, follow-up PCR test for sandbox tourists, means there are not enough facilities to cope with the demand. However, since January 4, Phuket has launched another 5 mobile lab vehicles and officials expect to handle up to 1,200 people a day.
The third issue, according to Pichate, is that there aren’t enough hotel isolation facilities – the so-called “hospitels” – to meet demand. He says the Phuket Public Health Administration will work with Vachira Hospital and the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association to set up more facilities for foreigners who test positive but are asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms.
Finally, the fourth issue is with the insurance policies travellers take out prior to arriving. As many won’t cover patients who only have mild – or no – symptoms, Pichate says the government should require foreign arrivals to also take out local insurance.
For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post